Prior to October 2015, many homeowners in the Porter Ranch neighborhood of Los Angeles were unaware that they lived next door to one of the largest natural gas storage facilities in the nation. Against the copper hills of the northern San Fernando Valley, their gated clusters of multi-story villas, arranged on neat curves and cul-de-sacs, probably felt worlds away from toxins and industry.
Then came the largest methane gas leak in U.S. history. A 61-year-old wellhead, 8,500 feet underground at the Southern California Gas Company’s Aliso Canyon storage site, cracked, spewing gas into the atmosphere at astonishing pressure. Since that day, life in Porter Ranch has turned on its head. More than three months later, the gas company has been unable to plug the leak.